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Millennials Don’t Care About Security

I hear this in several conversations with IT and security executives. This generation of technologically aware “kids” are now an integral part of the business community. The existing generation of leaders in business are struggling to properly integrate these people into existing and legacy security and risk frameworks.

The rising number of millennials in the workplace is seen as a major risk because the “youngsters” don’t take cyber security at work seriously enough. They simply do not care!

I am not convinced.

The modern workplace is an interesting place and in my opinion it is very unique. We have three distinct species who have to combine to generate ongoing value for the business. The business operates in and is part of a hyper-connected world and all three of these work species have different knowledge, acceptance and understanding of technologies. Here is my list of these species.

  • The BBT species – The acronym stands for Born Before Technology. This can also be called Baby Boomers in different conversations. The BBT species trusts nothing around technology and often has a difficult time in adjusting to the thrust of modern solutions especially around cloud technology and solutions.
  • The BAT species – Born Around Technology. This is the X and Y generations and while not being completely immersed in technology this generation was still young enough to adapt and adopt the technology as it evolved. There are often still perceptions that modern technology offerings and the value that cloud can bring has inherent risk, because we want to be in control. This generation works with technology, but doesn’t always trust it.
  • The BWT species – Born With Technology. This is everyone from millennials and younger. This generation knows nothing but technology. They have always been connected to everything around them and have an inherent trust for all things technological and connected. This species knows nothing else, if they want friends, music, content, connectivity, entertainment – it is there for you on-demand. They can always get what they want at a swipe or a click.

To test whether millennials really do not care about security I decided to do something that my generation doesn’t do; I spoke to the BWT.

I found out that for the most part this is not true. The millennial does care about cyber security; it is just that this is not clear in their frame of reference. Being surrounded by technology from birth has meant that there is no question of trust on all things technological. They have built in trust on connected platforms and people. If you are willing to share your life with the word through social media; why would they not trust somebody sending them a well worded email to their business email address?

The younger generation does care about their security and online safety, but are willing to swipe right based on a single image because the profile comes from one of their trusted sources.

The same thinking spreads to the business environment, they do care – but perhaps are not adequately aware or educated about the risks because technology does not scare them.  I believe that the biggest issue is that the BWT cannot identify with security policies and acceptable use policies because they are simply thrust upon them without explanation.  The BWT will not understand why they cannot click to get a movie or piece of music or perhaps take up that great “free” offer. We need to address the threats within their frame of reference.

The modern business must adapt to both the changing world as well as those that make up their workforce. You simply cannot deal with the BBT and the BWT in the same way. Modern awareness programs must be adapted and real-life scenarios must be used to get the right message across.

Using a combination of policy, training and real life simulations we can ensure that there is peaceful and secure co-existence between all species in our corporate ecosystem. Everybody cares about security - start the conversation – you just might learn something.

John Mc Loughlin